By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
August 3, 2023
A prominent former GOP member of the North Carolina House is urging state legislators to oppose casinos and any gambling expansion, calling it a poor way to promote economic expansion and a form of regressive taxation.
Paul Stam, a former majority leader and speaker pro tempore of the North Carolina House, sent a letter in late July to Republican members of the House and Senate as well as to Democratic legislative leaders, encouraging them to vote “no” on any future bill that includes casinos or video gaming machines.
“The Senate wants more gambling revenue so it can reduce the personal income tax to 2.5%,” Stam wrote in the letter to Democratic leaders. “That tax is now one half (½) of our general fund budget. So, it would replace a large revenue source that has a slightly progressive lean (due to generous exemptions) and replace it with a tax system that is highly regressive, highly inefficient, and highly unfair.”
House members are reportedly working on a bill that would legalize at least three casinos, reportedly in Anson, Nash and Rockingham counties. As of now, casinos can only be located on tribal lands, which are located in the western part of the state.
In both letters Stam urged legislators to “vote NO on any bill that includes casinos or ‘video machine’ gambling.”
“There are two casinos on Indian reservations and one at Kings Mountain on I-85 (a pretend Indian Reservation),” he wrote in his letter to Republicans. “Supposedly, four more additional casinos will be allowed around the state for ‘economic development.’ Atlantic City is a great example of economic development by casino. I have spoken to dozens of economic developers in the past. Not a one ever mentioned casinos as a good way to promote economic development. For decades the Lumbee Tribe promised there would be no casino if the tribe gained full federal recognition.”
Stam also criticized the possibility of legalizing casinos through an amendment to the annual state budget. He included a letter from CPAC/the American Conservative Union expressing concern about tying tax reduction to gambling expansion.
“The concept of turning this proposal into an unamendable conference report on the budget is a terrible idea,” he wrote to Republicans. “When Democrats did it in the past, we (including current GOP leaders) bitterly complained about it.”
Stam currently serves as an attorney in Apex, N.C.
“If you want to share with me your support of this proposal, I will confidentially pass your name on to a friend or two I have at the Assembly,” he wrote to Republicans. “They might want to speak with you.”
“Stam is so right,” said Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “Connecticut, Atlantic City, New Jersey Massachusetts, Louisianna, all depended heavily on the revenues from casinos only to find overtime they became a huge disappointment. When will we finally learn the true character of vice? We cannot smoke, drink, or gamble ourselves to prosperity as a people.”
The Christian Action League encourages its supporters to send a message to Sen. Phil Berger, Senate President Pro-Tempore, that North Carolina does not need more casinos or any other form of gambling. Call him at (919) 733-5708 to ask him to oppose any expansion of gambling.
Please Phone Senate President Pro-Tempore
Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham)
Below are 10 talking points to help you. You can use one, use all of them, or just some of them. It’s up to you, but please call.
- Social and economic costs: Casinos have been associated with various social issues such as increased crime rates, gambling addiction, and higher rates of bankruptcy. The negative consequences can strain public resources and social services, putting a burden on the community.
- The exploitation of vulnerable individuals: Casinos exploit vulnerable individuals, including problem gamblers and those from lower-income backgrounds. These individuals are more susceptible to developing gambling addictions and often spend a significant portion of their income on gambling, exacerbating poverty and inequality.
- Economic impact on local businesses: While casinos may create job opportunities, studies have shown that they can harm local businesses. Many local establishments, such as restaurants and small retailers, struggle to compete with the amenities and attractions offered by casinos, leading to closures and job losses.
- Regressive tax implications: Casinos often require substantial tax breaks and incentives from governments to establish themselves. These tax benefits can disproportionately favor wealthy investors and corporations, further exacerbating income inequality.
- Unpredictable revenue sources: Relying on casino revenue to fund public services is risky, to say the least. Casino revenues can fluctuate greatly, especially during economic downturns, making it an unreliable and unstable source of revenue for essential public services like education and healthcare.
- Corruption and organized crime: The gambling industry has historically been associated with corruption and links to organized crime. Casinos create an environment that fosters money laundering, bribery, and other illicit activities, posing a threat to the integrity of local institutions.
- Negative impact on local culture and tourism: Some argue that the establishment of casinos can diminish the unique cultural aspects and historical charm of a community. Additionally, the focus on gambling tourism may overshadow other attractions, discouraging visitors interested in different aspects of the local culture.
- Negative impact on public health: Studies have shown that areas with casinos often experience an increase in mental health issues, substance abuse, and even suicide rates. The prevalence of gambling addiction and its associated harms can have a severe impact on public health and well-being.
- Evaporation of wealth: Casinos are designed to generate profits for their owners, often at the expense of local communities. The majority of money spent in casinos tends to leave the local economy, benefiting out-of-state corporations or even foreign investors, which can lead to long-term economic losses for the community.
- Possible decline in property values: The presence of a casino can lead to a decline in property values, which negatively impacts homeowners and increase residential instability within a community.